Michel Foucault’s post-structuralist oeuvre looms over the final four decades of the twentieth century, having contributed the essential concepts of genealogies, biopower, disciplinary society, discursive formations, archeologies of knowledge, and the redistributions of power that elude top-down conceptions. Yet Foucault’s insistence on the centrality of language has been critiqued as unequal to some of the emphatically material crises we now collectively face. Indeed, Foucault himself claimed that the century would come to be known as Deleuzian, in perhaps canny anticipation of the ways Deleuze’s dynamically protean, post-anthropocentric work has come to inform several posthumanist trajectories in the twenty-first century.
While “high theory” is always vulnerable to the charge of elitism because of its difficulty and inevitable blind spots, the thrust of both Foucault’s and Deleuze’s philosophical programs is liberatory. Foucault’s analyses of how bodies are conscripted by regimes of power and knowledge invariably culminate in imagined strategies of resistance. Deleuze’s concept of a “minor” literature—a form of writing that transforms dominant language into a language of subversive force—is just one among those devoted to defining modalities of difference that exceed binary frameworks, and seek the conditions under which new political practices may be produced and lived. Each has given us a spectrum of ways to critique the legacy of Enlightenment humanism in the West, and each offers distinctive approaches, tools, and formal strategies for expressing alternatives to that tradition.
This advanced graduate course will begin by reading selections from Foucault's and Deleuze’s major texts toward assessing their respective limitations and contributions to posthumanism and the new materialisms; to understanding the ascendency of neoliberalism; and to grasping the challenges of the Anthropocene, planetarity, and human/non-human relationships. The class will decide collectively about the relative proportions which these diverse schools of thought will occupy over the course of the semester, as well the extent to which we will employ contemporary novels through which to illustrate and/or apply them. Prerequisite: Introduction to Critical Theory.
Studies special topics in writing of the United States.
Repeatable: Repeatable for up to 9.00 total credit hours.
Requisites: Restricted to English (ENGL) and English Lit- Creative Writing (CRWR) graduate students only.
Additional Information:Departmental Category: Graduate Courses
Taught by Karen Jacobs.